Family Adventure | Frequently Asked Questions

Plan Your Northern Michigan Adventure

Family Adventure | Frequently Asked Questions

Take a peek at the answers to my most frequently asked questions so you can get a better sense of what to expect for your family adventure and how to best prepare. And of course feel free to contact me using my contact form if you have any questions.
~Josh Hartman


Kids Jumping Dunes Northern Michigan

What is an adventure session? How is it different than a normal session?

Kick your shoes off, you won’t need them anyways. I encourage play, adventure, and appreciation for the landscapes surrounding us. I’m not your traditional posey photographer, I want to capture the true you. My goal is to create photos that tell a story and capture natural interactions during our shoot. A family adventure is the perfect way to capture genuine smiles, real interactions, and unique perspectives that are eye catching and incorporate the surrounding landscape.

Where do you like to photograph?

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is my favorite spot for a family shoot and where the majority of my photos are taken. There’s just something about those rolling sandy hills leading up to Lake Michigan that is alluring to me. There are many little trails and beaches to explore, some iconic and recognizable, there are also other lesser known locations you can only find by discovering them yourself, or hearing about them through word of mouth. Each hill, trail, pathway, or dune is unique in it’s own way, and I love that. I don’t limit myself to this one place though; it’s an ongoing mission to find new places to shoot. So if you’re seeking an adventure session off the beaten path, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s explore together! 


Newborn Family Session Northern Michigan


Will I be required to hike?

Most of my family adventures are what I like to call “choose your own adventure.” Which basically means we can turn back at any point because it’s all beautiful! If you want to continue and your family is feeling up to it, we can always hike a little further. For some family adventures, we drive around to beautiful spots with very little hiking. I will be sure to communicate before our session so I can choose a hike that is appropriate for your family. Let me know if you are bringing real little ones, grandparents, or a furry friend so I can accommodate. 


Family Road Trip VW Van


Do I need to bring anything to my session? 

On your adventure, all you really need is yourself. I recommend drinking some water before you leave the car and maybe eating a light snack. Please come prepared with layers. I’m happy to carry any extra items for you. I want your hands free to play for the photos. Oh, one more thing. Don’t forget to leave your cell phone in the car. It shows up in pockets and you won’t need it anyway. You’ll have so many professional photos to choose from.

What time of day do you like to photograph?

Sunrise is best if we want to get there before the crowds while still getting that early morning glow. Sunset is great if you aren’t a morning person but still want the surreal colors in the sky. On cloudy days, the lighting is a lot less harsh in the middle of the day. Generally speaking, golden hour is worth more than photos mid-day, but many of my favorite photos are captured in the middle of the day as well. Let’s chat about the best time for photos for your family.


Van Life Couple Arizona


Where are you located?

I’m a nomadic Michigander who is always on the go. I spend my summers in my homestate of Michigan. May through October I spend the majority of my time at Sleeping Bear Dunes. In the winter I seek different landscapes, especially out west, Arizona being my second favorite U.S. State next to Michigan. I live in a van with my girlfriend Nicole (also a photographer from Michigan) and my Texas heeler named Kovu. My van is just the right size for my home and mobile studio. Having the freedom to travel also allows me to travel across the country and be inspired by new landscapes everyday. 

Can we bring our dog?

Yes, please bring your dog! I get it, your fur baby is a part of the family.  Just let me know ahead of time so we can find a dog friendly hike and don’t forget the treats and water. I also recommend exercising your dog before our adventure to help calm them down. I’ll bring plenty of treats too.


family holding and cuddling with puppies during a family adventure session

What happens if it rains?

As a Michigan photographer, I often deal with sporadic hard to predict weather. Light rain does not affect my sessions. My families typically choose to embrace the weather. With medium to heavy rain I have to protect my camera gear so the sessions will often be rescheduled. It’s a good idea to come up with a backup date in case of weather. I do leave space in my schedule to accommodate rescheduled shoots. You should know that rain will often blow over very quickly in Northern Michigan, so we might want to just wait it out. 

2 girls wearing pink dress during family session


If we are running late, will you stay later than scheduled?

Although I prefer to start my session at the scheduled times I leave a little time in between my session to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. No worries!

What are the most important things parents can do to help with a family photo session? 

Above all, make sure your family gets a good night’s sleep and arrives well fed.

I also encourage parents to talk with their children about the photo adventure well in advance. Get them hyped by showing them pictures of all the children laughing and playing on my website in the weeks before your shoot.

During the session, avoid telling your child to smile or directing them to pose a certain way. This often encourages fake smiles and causes kids to look away from the camera. Don’t worry. I got you covered. I bring my bag of tricks to every session. It is my goal to inspire a natural smile from your kids.

Do you take traditional photos of everyone looking at the camera?

Yes, I make sure to get the formal photos of everyone looking at the camera first. I’m happy to get whatever combinations you like! Then after the traditional shots are done, I will encourage everyone to be more playful. You’ll be surprised what candid moments I can capture of your family when they’re only worried about having fun, not how the photos turn out.

three girls chasing each other during family adventure session


How much time would be scheduled for our shoot?

I often encourage kids to play and run around and so my sessions require more time than a traditional family shoot. Most of my family adventures last between 60 and 75 minutes. 

What can I do with my images? Do you offer prints?

You have unlimited printing and sharing rights. That means you are able to post them wherever you’d like. You are able to print them anywhere at your own convenience. I also offer professional printing services right through my website, this includes paper prints and canvases. 


Sleeping Bear Family Sunset

family adventure session group shot


Sounds good. How do I book?

All that’s required is my family adventure fee with a signed proposal to reserve your day. I’m available in Northern Michigan from May through October. You can also reach me through my contact page here. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Josh Hartman ~ Traverse City Family Photographer